Green And Nightmares

The 2011 NFL Draft is one of my favorites. When you look back at it, you see all the big names that came out of that draft class. Cam Newton was the first overall pick by the Carolina Panthers, and he’s become a superstar. J.J. Watt was selected by the Houston Texans in that same class and so was Von Miller. The Cincinnati Bengals took a chance on a kid named A.J. Green from Georgia. He’s become a fan favorite but has struggled to stay healthy. Today, the Bengals announced that he will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks with torn ligaments in his left ankle.

When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best wide receivers in the league. He may be overshadowed by the bigger names like Odell, Julio, Hopkins and Antonio Brown, but he’s played at an elite level since coming into the league. He can do it all from catching the simple screen pass and taking it to the endzone for six points or catching the deep ball and making a secondary pay for not covering him correctly. He has phenomenal balance, hands and footwork to complement his skillset. He’s made some of the wildest and acrobatic catches on the sidelines with three guys around him. He can line up wide and does damage but can also be used in the slot where he’s a mismatch nightmare over the middle because that forces the safeties in the backend to have to pay close attention to him. I remember a game against the Colts last year where he was lined up in the slot and split the two safeties to get free and Andy Dalton put the ball only to where number 18 could get it. A week later last season against the Ravens, a team he’s terrorized since coming into the league, he scored three touchdowns. He’s more than capable of taking a game over.

This is a big loss for the Bengals offense. He’s their best player and he isn’t easy to replace. Since coming into the league, he’s been the only receiver since the NFL merger in 1970 to begin his career being selected to seven straight pro bowls. Amongst active receivers, he’s averaged 80 yards in 100 games joining Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. It’s never hit or miss with him on the football field. He’s catching everything thrown in his direction. The only issue lingering over him has been the injuries. He only played in nine games last season. Here’s to a speedy recovery.